Greece hurtles towards new election; hard left leads

May 12, 2012

By George Georgiopoulos and Renee Maltezou, Reuters

Greece’s politicians failed on Friday to agree a new government, sending the country hurtling towards a new vote, with radical leftists leading in the polls and poised to scrap the 130 billion euro bailout that staved off bankruptcy.

The prospect of a new election just weeks after an inconclusive vote that paralyzed the most troubled country in the euro zone caused havoc in financial markets.

The European single currency hit its lowest point since January near $1.29, while the Athens stock exchange fell more than 4 percent to its lowest level since 1992.

Outgoing finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the Socialist PASOK party, acknowledged his failure to form a government after he was spurned by radical leftist Alexis Tsipras, who has sworn to tear up the bailout.

“The moment of truth is here. I will inform the president tomorrow afternoon. I hope everybody shows maturity and responsibility in consultations with the president,” he said.

President Karolos Papoulias will now have a last chance to meet with all political leaders to convince them to agree a cabinet, although the odds of success are seen as scant. If he fails as expected, he must call a new election for mid-June.

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